National Eating Disorders Association

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the rage is wearing me down

My 19 year old daughter was diagnosed with a restricting type eating disorder just before her winter break at college. She really wanted to stay in college so I took a leave of absence from my job and we moved into a small apartment together near campus. She has a nutritionist and a therapist. My job is to feed her and help provide support.

The feeding has been easier than I expected and she has thankfully gained some weight.It's actually the rage and hostility that is breaking me down. She blames me daily for her disorder, telling me I am a terrible mother and that she hates me. She now has a rule that I cannot talk about anything negative. i am not allowed to express any anxieties, concerns or respond to her verbal abuse. She tells me that I can offer praise and be nice but if there is something negative I want to say, I have to write on a piece of paper and she will tell me whether or not she will discuss it with me. The fact is though, I am very anxious and worried and starting to feel really resentful about the constant hostility. My husband and younger daughter are overseas, which is where I also normally reside for work, so I have no support here in this college town.

This week she is trying to be more independent and prepare a few of her own meals without reminders and the hostility has worsened. Anytime she has difficulty eating she tells me that its because of something negative I said to her that is preventing her from eating. Her therapist says that the hostility and blame will subside as her recovery gets stronger.

I am worried that once she is fully recovered our relationship will be irreparably damaged. I think I will need a therapist to forgive her. I hate to say it but its true.

Hi melissa,

Hi melissa,

It really is rough when your child can't see the depth of your love or everything that is being done to help her. So much of this illness seems to be about the need to control, so it doesn't surprise me that she is restricting what you say and what she is willing to talk to you about. We experience the same with our daughter, and it is aggravating and disheartening. Financing her treatment is really taking its toll, but what else can you do when it's your child, and the alternative isn't something you want to consider. You have made major sacrifices already, just coming back from overseas and taking time off of work, and there are probably more to come. I would encourage you to get some support, since you are out of your element there in the college town. (Easier said than done, I know. I've thought about seeing a therapist myself, but with all the expenses paid out already, who can afford to pay those rates?) If you are in a position to be able to do so, seek professional support. With no one else around to share the burden, this is just too heavy to bear alone. There are often really good churches in college towns, so maybe you could look there to get inspiration, deepen your faith and develop some relationships, as well.

There are other parents like you who are asking the same questions and feeling the same emotions as you on this forum. Sometimes just knowing that we are not alone in this very difficult struggle has really helped me. Hang in there, and be good to yourself. I chose Esperanza as a username because it means hope, and sometimes that's all we have to keep going.


Hello dear Mom. I was asked by my daughter to reach out to you. I hear your pain and can't help but say, yes, of course, you should get some counseling and support for this journey. It is a sacrifice of love to do what you are doing but I question the health of the situation for both you and your daughter. It is important to understand the concept of taking care of your heart. It is so important to only do what you are asked to do by your daughter, but also to only do what she is not truly capable of doing. I would think that if you are actually living with her and preparing meals etc. that you should definitely be part of the Team who are treating your daughter and allow them to draw up a plan that you both are agreeable to follow. Remember, this is her journey. She has choices to make every moment and will have a lot of conflicting emotions regarding you. It is not is her problem. If she wants to make it work at college then what is she doing to reach her goal? I hope that you can find a support group for yourself. You both need to learn how to respect and value each other. If she is not wiling then perhaps it is time to return to your family. It might be that all of your sacrifice and effort is not what she really needs. It is her journey. My heart goes out to you. My daughter suffered for over 30 years but it was not until she finally realized that she didn't want this identity and was ready to change that nothing else worked. She was a prisoner of pride and self, filled with rear and major control issues. That is what it sounds like you are dealing with..... a lot of control issues. It is not fun. I have cried many a tear and was willing to do anything to support our daughter but boundaries are desperately needed to take care of yourself. I pray that you find support and love to build you up. We are called to pour out of our overflowing.....that God fills us up....only then can we help when we are not part of the problem. I hope that this makes some sense to you. I am hopeful that you will respond back if you think it would be helpful. I remain: A Prisoner of Hope. I have faith that through hope in God and prayer that He will complete the good work that He began in us.

I'd like to thank everyone

I'd like to thank everyone who responded for your support. It has really made a difference and let me look at the situation more objectively. I've decided to take a couple of days a week off and go stay with with friends who live a few hours away. I did this last weekend and while my daughter was still irritable when I got back, I felt better. We met with her therapist and are working on me giving up the reins more and more to my daughter, because as everyone says, ultimately it is up to her not me. The transition is hard for both of us for different reasons but I have faith we will get there - how can I not at this point?

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The rage is wearing me down

I am so sorry you are going thru this with your daughter, but very glad you are getting away for a few days. It's so hard when you are alone to bear the brunt of all that rage and energy depleting negativity. I was going to suggest maybe see if there is someone who offers meal support in your town. It's really expensive in NYC, but maybe there is someone who would gel with your daughter that's a grad student leaning towards this field or social work. Even taking one meal off a day is a huge relief. At least she's trying to eat, that's a great step. Ask her to write down the things that help her and anger her. My daughter, for instance, could never hear words like "good job" because she took a bite or finished. The moment my voice became anything but lullaby sweet she would say I was yelling. I wish you lots of luck. Hoping both our daughters turn the tide soon.